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Cornelius News

Nationwide lifeguard shortage sinks plans for beach reopening

The LKN Chamber’s 20 year effort to get a public beach was led by Bill Russell

May 26. By Dave Yochum. There’s a nationwide shortage of lifeguards, not just the county-run beach at Ramsey Creek Park which remains closed through Memorial Day weekend.

Bill Russell, one of the key drivers for a public beach, said the lifeguard shortage is “completely understandable” given unemployment benefits that make it more palatable for some people to stay home.

Ramsey Creek Beach pre-COVID

“You can’t get people to work in processing plants, housekeeping, as well as open restaurants at full capacity given unemployment benefits currently make it beneficial to stay home,” he said.

COVID-wariness as well

At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented many people from being indoors for lifeguard training which includes hands-on contact with trainers.

Shortages of lifeguards are being reported from Florida to Missouri, from Dallas to Fresno—where some waterparks are being forced to close.

Kiwanis Splashville Park

Kiwanis Splashville Park

It’s not quite the same, but the Lake Norman Kiwanis Splashville Park in Smithville opened on Friday last week. It’s a fun way to cool off. Address: 19710 S. Ferry.


The splash pad in Birkdale Village is undergoing a renovation and “re-imagining,” according to a spokesperson, and will remain closed for the rest of the summer.


Reflecting on our first (and only) public beach

“Soon after the initial opening of the beach, I went a few weekends just to see who was visiting the park. Quite a few families told me it was a real challenge to their budget to travel to Ocean Isle or Myrtle Beach but they could visit Lake Norman for the day. While many of us have the financial means to plan for a summer vacation on North or South Carolina’s shores – many of our young families do not have those economic means and to a six or nine year old, Ramsey Creek Beach is a true treasure and creates a memorable moment they will never forget. For the sake of our families and children, I hope our County finds the funds and resources to reopen the beach.

—Bill Russell, CEO

Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce